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Office 2013 Public Preview: Office 365 Home Premium

Office 365 Home Premium is one of the most intriguing and innovative pieces of the entire Office 365 puzzle. It is comprised of what at first appears to be contradictions: An Office 365 subscription aimed not at businesses but at consumers. A version of the venerable Office productivity suite that is delivered as a service, from the cloud, and can be installed on up to five PCs. An additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage. And 60 minutes of Skype credit per month for anywhere-in-the-world calling. What?!

The question, of course, is the cost. And today, we just don’t know how much this incredible service is going to cost. But assuming it’s within shouting distance of the cost of today’s low-end Office 365 for small businesses—i.e. $6 per user per month—what you’re looking at here is possibly the technology deal of a lifetime. $5 per month? $10 per month?

This I don’t know. And, yes, I’ve asked. So while we wait for Microsoft to come clean on the cost, let’s take a closer look at what I assume will be the absolute killer offering for individuals in the Office 2012 wave of solutions. Here’s what you’ll get by subscribing to Office 365 Home Premium.

Microsoft Office 2013. Microsoft doesn’t actually have an offering called Office Professional 2013, but if it did, this would be it: This version of the suite includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, and Publisher. (The Professional Plus 2013 suite, which does exist, also includes Lync.)

Skype. Oh, and Office 2013 will include Skype and, of course, integration between the Skype services and capabilities and various Office applications. For example, Outlook 2013 will merge your Skype contacts with contacts from your other accounts and provide Skype-based presence information and calling links in their People cards. (Skype is not included with the Public Preview.)

Windows 8 apps. It’s not clear how Microsoft will distribute its Metro-based versions of OneNote and Lync—either “with” Office 2013 or just freely through Windows Store—but these are the two apps that Microsoft will deliver as part of the Office 2013 wave of solutions.

Office for Mac. Office 365 will include access to Office for Mac as well. According to Microsoft’s documentation, the service may ship first with Office for Mac 2011, but a 2013 edition of the product is underway.

Install rights on five PCs (and/or Macs). You can install Office 2013 on up to five PCs (and/or Macs).

Install rights on (some numbers of) mobile devices.  You can also install Office Mobile 2013 on multiple portable devices. This is similar to how the Zune service works today, where you have limits on the numbers of PCs and devices (Zune, Windows Phone) to which you can connect your account. (The number of allowed devices allowed is TBD, and of course Microsoft is trying to keep its iPad/Android Office 2013 versions a secret at the moment.)

Roaming settings. By signing in with Office through your Office 365 account, you will sync your personal settings—most recently used documents and files, templates, custom dictionary, and more—across all of the PCs to which you install Office 2013. This works similarly to settings sync in Windows 8.

Free upgrades for the life of the subscription. When Microsoft delivers updates to Office 2013 or the other technologies in this subscription, you get them. When Microsoft provides a new version of Office for any platform, you get that. There’s no addition cost, no need to manually install anything, no need to do anything. Well, other than keep your subscription current.

Office on Demand. Using the new Office on Demand service, you can stream an Office application from Microsoft’s servers to a computer on which Office is not installed and use it temporarily.

Additional SkyDrive storage. Office 365 Home Premium comes with 20 GB of additional storage, which Microsoft normally sells for an additional $10 per year. (SkyDrive comes with 7 GB of free storage today, though customers who had been using the service previously will have 25 GB of free storage.)

Monthly Skype credit. As part of your Office 365 Home Premium subscription, you will receive 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month.

Office 365 Home Premium will be made available in dozens of countries. During the Public Preview, the service is available in approximately 70 countries

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